Recently, there was a terrible situation in the town just north of mine where a small child was killed by a dog. I commented on the story to thank the reporter for their non-incendiary language in reporting the incident. I couldn’t help but respond (calmly) to the typical comments of how Pit Bulls are killer dogs and should be banned, etc, etc. I pointed out that the situation may have been extremely stressful for the dog, the infant should never have been left alone with the dog, and that the owner had been cited twice for irresponsible ownership of the dog. I also mentioned that dog bites and fatalities occur with all breeds of dogs, and pointed to Brent Toellner’s thorough analysis of dog attack fatalities across the nation.
Another commenter replied that Mr. Toellner’s analysis was suspect because his photo shows him with his two Pit Bull type dogs. (I’d like to note that I’m the only person who used their full legal name in their comments… tells you something about the caliber of discourse on newspaper websites. But I digress.)
It really frustrates me that because someone owns a Pit Bull, their knowledge about dogs, and Pit Bulls specifically, is “biased” and immediately discounted by members of the general public. If someone owns a Porsche and knows a lot about cars in general, and Porsches specifically, wouldn’t you consider them to be more of an expert on Porsches because they have intimate knowledge of one? Instead of seeing Pit Bull owners as a reasonable source of first hand information about the breed, we are somehow ‘duped’ into caring for these dogs. We’re called ‘pit-nutters’ or worse. Somehow, this magical, mythical dog has managed to completely override our logic and critical thinking and lull us into advocating for them – ostensibly so they can continue their covert mission to kill kill kill. My Pit Bull is a master manipulator capable of duplicitous behavior and he hasn’t once dropped character in 7 years! For heaven’s sake, people, really?
Many of us became “experts” because society constantly demands we justify the ownership of our dog. It’s exhausting having to read studies on dog behavior, know dog bite and rescue statistics across the country, ensure that my dog is never, ever, ever off my property off leash, and all the rest. I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading, training, rescuing, crying… all because this silly clown dog looked up at me in the shelter with the most pitiful eyes. I didn’t get this dog to prove anything. I simply believed the shelter’s assessment over the media reports I’d heard (I had a run in with the “media” in high school and know how facts are distorted). I rescued a DOG, and I was handed a controversy.
I’m an advocate for the breed BECAUSE of society’s bias. I’m a college educated woman whose career depends on my strategic and critical thinking skills. I have excelled in my job because I am able to quickly analyze situations and determine outcomes. I have observed this dog for SEVEN YEARS and I can tell you exactly how he will respond in a given situation based on his ear position, tail position, etc. He’s a DOG with an individual personality. I have two other “Pit mixes” who are unique and have individual traits too. Each of these dogs will react differently in different situations because they are individuals. However, they have one thing in common – they are loving DOGS.
Many people are ignorant of Pit Bulls and only know what they hear on the news, which is unfortunately, only part of the story. With these people, I am happy to talk about irresponsible ownership, over-breeding, behavior versus temperament, etc. I encourage them to meet my dog. Usually after he pees on their shoes because he’s SO EXCITED to meet his new best friend, they laugh and realize that he’s a DOG.
Then there are yahoos who have blogs titled “How to Kill A Pit Bull”. (I’m not going to link to the site because I don’t want to increase their traffic. These idiots should just be ignored. They cannot be reasoned with.) I’m not sure what circumstances leads someone to an agenda hoping to eradicate a breed of dog, but they are out there. Thankfully, many of them are so over-the-top in their language and ideas that I hope a rational person would dismiss them.
I’d really rather spend my free time cross-stitching, or reading, or baking. Instead, I spend my free time fighting a social war for my dog’s right to exist. Sounds pretty dumb when I say it that way, doesn’t it?